There’s something really exciting about being out at sea, smelling the salty seaweed in the air, and hearing the waves crashing against each other. Pirate lore is incredibly fascinating, and it is something that isn’t successfully explored very often in video games. There are a few titles, however, that have managed to hit the nail right on the head, capturing the vibe of pirate themes and storytelling properly and doing the fantasy of sea dwellers justice. GameZone presents the top five pirate games ever made.
Oh, and because you can’t talk about pirates without making this noise, here it is: Argh!
5. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean
The latest title to get the LEGO treatment is also an excellent pirate game in its own right. Fans of the LEGO series, the Pirates of the Caribbean films, action-adventure games, and general pirate adventures are sure to enjoy LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean for its excellent puzzle design and wonderfully crafted levels. There are a few camera issues to overcome, but even with that minor setback, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean manages to compress the four films it is based on into one satisfying package. With plenty of charm and great gameplay to go around, this new pirate game is an enjoyable adventure all the way through.
4. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
You probably wouldn’t be able to tell from the box art, but Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure is one heck of a pirate romp. This Wii game features rich, colorful visuals, impressive adventure gameplay, and surprisingly challenging puzzles. The pirates here might not look like your typical booze-gulping, foul-mouthed sea urchins, but they’ll definitely make things difficult for the titular characters. And don’t let the game’s E rating fool you–the puzzles in this pirate tale are not for the faint of heart.
3. Sid Meier’s Pirates!
When the classic strategy game Sid Meier’s Pirates! was remade back in 2004, it managed to faithfully combine the pirate essence with engrossing strategy gameplay. The game was completely captivating, and it caused many gamers to skip meals and lose some serious sleep. Though the main quest wasn’t too long (about eight hours), the game encouraged players to investigate different sea routes and seek out different solutions to its many tasks. It’s 2011, and we think it’s about time Sid Meier’s Pirates! 2 hit consoles.
2. Skies of Arcadia
A story about pirates, anime visuals, and RPG gameplay. Who would have thought those three elements would have blended so well together? When the original Skies of Arcadia launched for the Sega Dreamcast back in 2000, it offered one of the most memorable role-playing game experiences on the console. To this day, it is considered one of the best games released for the console. The game posed a unique premise for the pirate formula and had players sailing and battling in ships that flew through the sky. It was different. It was ethereal. It combined pirate-themed action with deep RPG storytelling. Most of all, it was memorable. The game was eventually ported to the GameCube, and a sequel on today’s consoles is long overdue.
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Easily one of the most unique games in Nintendo’s famed fantasy action-adventure series, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker managed to retell the classic story of good versus evil in a grand manner once more. Link, a village boy who knew only a life of play and general household toil, was forced to grow up in a short amount of time to save the pirate Tetra, who unknowingly belonged to the Hyrulian Royal Family. Though the game told the tried and tested Zelda story and featured a lot of the rich gameplay elements that Ocarina of Time popularized, it still felt like a completely new adventure. By sailing the vast seas, searching for treasure, and teaming up with pirates, Link essentially went from landlubber to gruff explorer of the ocean without losing his charm. Not only is this one of the best Zelda games ever created (if not the best), but it is also a memorable pirate game that stands far above the rest thanks to its massive scale and gripping story.
Treasure, the open sea, and memorable characters are often key elements in the pirate genre. The pretentiously told stories that recall the events of the boat-dwelling explorers often exude a high level of a historical yet fantastical atmosphere that’s easy to enjoy. Though the subject matter is limited, a few pirate games will undoubtedly offer something special for gamers. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure, Sid Meier’s Pirates!, Skies of Arcadia, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker are easily five of the most enjoyable, and they are true treasures.